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Great Graphic Novels For Teens selection committee

2014 Top Ten Great Graphic Novels For Teens

The 2014 Great Graphic Novels For Teens list is complete after a weekend of debate and voting. Of 122 nominees, 78 made the cut, and a straw poll was taken to determine the Top 10.

I was one of the lucky librarians who participated in the inner sanctum of comic book arguments and can testify that the GGNFT group gave every title reasoned, intelligent consideration before voting on its fate. Below is a list of the Top 10, with series counted as individual entries. For example, Gene Luen Yang's "Boxers" and "Saints" work best as one combined story, and Io Sakisaka's "Strobe Edge" was chosen as a bundle of its first six books. The Top 10 are listed below in alphabetical order and are heartily recommended, especially for readers age 12-18.

  • The Adventures of Superhero Girl, Faith Erin Hicks
  • Boxers & Saints, Gene Luen Yang
  • Dogs of War, Sheila Keenan & Nathan Fox
  • March: Book One, John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, & Nate Powell
  • Mind MGMT, Volume One: The Manager, Matt Kindt & Brendan Wright
  • Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong, Prudence Shen & Faith Erin Hicks
  • Rust: Book 2, Royden Lepp
  • Strobe Edge Books 1-6, Io Sakisaka
  • War Brothers, Sharon McKay & Daniel Lafrance
  • Will & Whit, Laura Lee Gulledge

  • Amazon Says: What if you can leap tall buildings and defeat alien monsters with your bare hands, but you buy your capes at secondhand stores and have a weakness for kittens? Cartoonist Fai more...
    Amazon Says: What if you can leap tall buildings and defeat alien monsters with your bare hands, but you buy your capes at secondhand stores and have a weakness for kittens? Cartoonist Faith Erin Hicks brings charming humor to the trials and tribulations of a young, female superhero, battling monsters both supernatural and mundane in an all-too-ordinary world. * A lighthearted twist on the superhero genre! less...
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    Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
    Amazon Says: China,1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants. Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient more...
    Amazon Says: China,1898. Bands of foreign missionaries and soldiers roam the countryside, bullying and robbing Chinese peasants. Little Bao has had enough. Harnessing the powers of ancient Chinese gods, he recruits an army of Boxers - commoners trained in kung fu who fight to free China from "foreign devils." Against all odds, this grass-roots rebellion is violently successful. But nothing is simple. Little Bao is fighting for the glory of China, but at what cost? So many are dying, including thousands of "secondary devils" - Chinese citizens who have converted to Christianity. ---- Boxers & Saints is an innovative new graphic novel in two volumes - the parallel stories of two young people caught up on opposite sides of a violent rift. American Born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang brings his clear-eyed storytelling and trademark magical realism to the complexities of the Boxer Rebellion and lays bare the foundations of extremism, rebellion, and faith. ---- Discover the other side of the Boxer Rebellion in Saints - the companion volume to Boxers. less...
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    Saints by Gene Luen Yang
    Amazon Says: China, 1898. An unwanted fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family. She finds friendship—and a name, Vibiana—in the most unlikely of places: more...
    Amazon Says: China, 1898. An unwanted fourth daughter, Four-Girl isn't even given a proper name by her family. She finds friendship—and a name, Vibiana—in the most unlikely of places: Christianity. But China is a dangerous place for Christians. The Boxer Rebellion is murdering Westerners and Chinese Christians alike. Torn between her nation and her Christian friends, Vibiana will have to decide where her true loyalties lie . . . and whether she is willing to die for her faith. ----Boxers & Saints is a groundbreaking graphic novel in two volumes. This innovative format presents two parallel tales about young people caught up on opposite sides of a violent rift. Saints tells Vibiana's story, and the companion volume, Boxers, tells the story of Little Bao, a young man who joins the Boxer Rebellion. American Born Chinese author Gene Luen Yang brings his trademark magical realism to the complexities of the Boxer Rebellion, and lays bare the universal foundations of extremism, rebellion, and faith. less...
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    Dogs of War by Sheila Keenan
    Amazon Says: Sheila Keenan's captivating stories paired with Nathan Fox's stunning art bring the heroic military actions of man's best friend to life! Some war heroes heard wind whistling more...
    Amazon Says: Sheila Keenan's captivating stories paired with Nathan Fox's stunning art bring the heroic military actions of man's best friend to life! Some war heroes heard wind whistling over a hidden trip wire. Some war heroes sniffed out a sniper 1,000 yards away. Some war heroes stood tall . . . on four legs! DOGS OF WAR is a graphic novel that tells the stories of the canine military heroes of World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War. This collection of three fictional stories was inspired by historic battles and real military practice. Each story tells the remarkable adventures of a soldier and his service dog and is rendered with fascinating and beautiful detail, bringing to life the faithful dogs who braved bombs, barrages, and battles to save the lives of countless soldiers. Based on the real-life roles of military dogs that served as Red Cross rescuers, messengers, scouts, search-and-rescue teams, sentries, and mascots, DOGS OF WAR captures both the adventure and the devastation brought on by war, as well as the celebrations of life and friendship between boys and their dogs. less...
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    March: Book One by John Lewis
    Amazon Says: Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama more...
    Amazon Says: Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon, one of the key figures of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper's farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president. Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis presents March, a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole). March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. Book One spans John Lewis' youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall. Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1958 comic book "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story." Now, his own comics bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations. less...
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    Amazon Says: Reporting on a commercial flight where everyone aboard lost their memories, a young journalist stumbles onto a much bigger story, the topsecret Mind Management program. Her en more...
    Amazon Says: Reporting on a commercial flight where everyone aboard lost their memories, a young journalist stumbles onto a much bigger story, the topsecret Mind Management program. Her ensuing journey involves weaponized psychics, hypnotic advertising, talking dolphins, and seemingly immortal pursuers, as she attempts to find the flight's missing passenger, the man who was MIND MGMT's greatest success—and its most devastating failure. But in a world where people can rewrite reality itself, can she trust anything she sees? Collects MIND MGMT #1#6. "Matt Kindt is the man. Superb series." —Junot Diaz, Pulitzer Prizewinning author less...
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    Amazon Says: You wouldn’t expect Nate and Charlie to be friends. Charlie’s the laid-back captain of the basketball team, and Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics cl more...
    Amazon Says: You wouldn’t expect Nate and Charlie to be friends. Charlie’s the laid-back captain of the basketball team, and Nate is the neurotic, scheming president of the robotics club. But they are friends, however unlikely—until Nate declares war on the cheerleaders. At stake is funding that will either cover a robotics competition or new cheerleading uniforms—but not both. It's only going to get worse: after both parties are stripped of their funding on grounds of abominable misbehavior, Nate enrolls the club's robot in a battlebot competition in a desperate bid for prize money. Bad sportsmanship? Sure. Chainsaws? Why not. Running away from home on Thanksgiving to illicitly enter a televised robot death match? Of course! In Faith Erin Hicks' and Prudence Shen's world of high school class warfare and robot death matches, Nothing can possibly go wrong.   less...
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    Strobe Edge, Vol. 1 by Io Sakisaka
    Amazon Says: Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart! Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences. more...
    Amazon Says: Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart! Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences. less...
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    Strobe Edge, Vol. 2 by Io Sakisaka
    Amazon Says: Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart! What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako more...
    Amazon Says: Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart! What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling really is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, the handsome, enigmatic guy that all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world... Once Ninako realizes that she’s fallen for Ren, she confesses her feelings to him even though she knows he has a girlfriend! Meanwhile, a new semester brings an outgoing guy called Ando into Ninako’s life—is Ando just an outrageous flirt or will he turn out to be Ninako’s savior? Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences. less...
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    Strobe Edge, Vol. 3 by Io Sakisaka
    Amazon Says: Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart! What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako more...
    Amazon Says: Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart! What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling really is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, the handsome, enigmatic guy that all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world... Ninako’s feelings for Ren continue to stir, especially since he seems to be sending her mixed messages. One minute he’s avoiding her and the next minute he’s holding her to hide her away from Ando! Could seeing Ando’s interest in Ninako be causing some subtle changes inside Ren? Releases R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences. less...
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    Strobe Edge, Vol. 4 by Io Sakisaka
    Amazon Says: Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart! What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako more...
    Amazon Says: Being in love can light up your life… A sweet love story that will warm your heart! What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling really is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, the handsome, enigmatic guy that all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world... Ando confesses his feelings to Ninako and tells her to give up on Ren—especially because there are limits to loving someone who already has a girlfriend. Meanwhile, Ren finds it harder and harder to deny his attraction to Ninako… But will Ren choose to do anything about it, particularly when his girlfriend, Mayuka, needs him? Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences. less...
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    Strobe Edge, Vol. 5 by Io Sakisaka
    Amazon Says: A heartwarming story about first love that’s one of the most hotly anticipated new shojo series among U.S. fans. What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her more...
    Amazon Says: A heartwarming story about first love that’s one of the most hotly anticipated new shojo series among U.S. fans. What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling really is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, the handsome, enigmatic guy that all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world... Resolving to focus on his girlfriend, Mayuka, during her time of need, Ren buries his growing feelings for Ninako. Meanwhile, Ninako sees a different side of Ando when they run into his ex-girlfriend. What happened to Ando in the past, and how was Ren involved? Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences. less...
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    Strobe Edge, Vol. 6 by Io Sakisaka
    Amazon Says: A heartwarming story about first love that’s one of the most hotly anticipated new shojo series among U.S. fans. What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her more...
    Amazon Says: A heartwarming story about first love that’s one of the most hotly anticipated new shojo series among U.S. fans. What is love, anyway? Ninako Kinoshita’s friends tell her it’s one thing, but Ninako wonders what this mysterious feeling really is. When she meets Ren Ichinose, the handsome, enigmatic guy that all the girls worship, her life takes an unexpected turn. With just a few words and a smile, he changes her world... A big change occurs in Ren and Mayuka’s relationship, leaving Ninako wondering what she should do with this news. Just as things seem to be moving forward, Ando confronts Ren about a past transgression. Will these two former friends be able to mend their rift? Reads R to L (Japanese Style) for teen audiences. less...
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    Amazon Says: Praise for War Brothers, the novel by Sharon E. McKay: War Brothers is a novel that very accurately portrays the criminality of adults who abduct kids to carry more...
    Amazon Says: Praise for War Brothers, the novel by Sharon E. McKay: War Brothers is a novel that very accurately portrays the criminality of adults who abduct kids to carry out crimes against humanity... This engrossing book is a vivid look at the hideous crimes committed by such groups and should be read by anyone wanting to know about Kony's LRA. -- Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire (Retired), international child soldier advocate The life of a child soldier is full of unthinkable violence ... But the human capacity to connect with others and for survival is remarkable. Jacob is a 14-year-old Ugandan who is sent away to a boys' school. Once there, he assures his friend Tony that they need not be afraid -- they will be safe. But not long after, in the shadow of the night, the boys are abducted. Marched into the jungle, they are brought to an encampment of the feared rebel soldiers. They are told they must kill or be killed, and their world turns into a terrifying struggle to endure and survive. In time, the boys escape. Hunted by the rebels, stalked by a lion, and even pursued by river crocs, they miraculously succeed in reaching safety. However, it is no longer enough. Jacob wrestles with the question of whether we are all really beasts inside. He decides the way through the pain is to record his story. Daniel Lafrance's powerful, striking, and poignant artwork and the crisp, evocative text vividly capture the haunting experiences of a young boy caught in a brutal war. This graphic novel is based on an award-winning YA novel by Sharon McKay. Sharon has spent time with child soldiers and based this story on real-life accounts. less...
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    Will & Whit by Laura Lee Gulledge
    Amazon Says:   Wilhelmina “Will” Huxstep is a creative soul struggling to come to terms with a family tragedy. She crafts whimsical lamps, in part to deal with her fear of the dark. As more...
    Amazon Says:   Wilhelmina “Will” Huxstep is a creative soul struggling to come to terms with a family tragedy. She crafts whimsical lamps, in part to deal with her fear of the dark. As she wraps up another summer in her mountain town, she longs for unplugged adventures with her fellow creative friends, Autumn, Noel, and Reese. Little does she know that she will get her wish in the form of an arts carnival and a blackout, courtesy of a hurricane named Whitney, which forces Will to face her fear of darkness. Laura Lee Gulledge’s signature visual metaphors will be on full display in this all-new graphic novel, a moving look at shedding light on the dark corners of life. Praise for Will & Whit STARRED REVIEW "This sophomore offering shines as bright as the lamps Will surrounds herself with... Quirky, clever and insightful." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review "Gulledge creates engaging characters (especially Reese, Noel’s precocious younger sister), and draws them with believable expressiveness… Gulledge’s values are wholesome, and her energy is up-to-the minute fresh." —Publishers Weekly "The most striking feature about Gulledge’s second graphic novel is the organic nature of the layouts. Action and dialogue flow smoothly from panel to panel, barely acknowledging their confines. Thick, sumptuous lines separate characters from richly detailed backgrounds, and this is all done in black and white. Gulledge populates her story with unique and likable characters who relate easily and naturally to one another." —School Library Journal "Across the reaches of YA-targeted media, it’s rare to find a work with such a relentlessly upbeat tone and sense of uncompromising positivity as those found in this graphic novel." —Booklist "The shape and pacing of panels expertly capture the narrative’s tone; occasionally the panels disappear altogether, giving the images a dreamy feel. Eloquent pointillist shadows reveal Will’s emotions—especially her fears and insecurities—and her expansive imagination." —HornBook "Rendered in black and white panels, this graphic novel provides a surprisingly light-hearted story with a strong emotional core. Detailed backgrounds draw the reader into the scene, while the mixture of group shots and individual faces guides the narrative through social and introspective moments." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books "Willhemena learns to deal with the shadows from her past and take a big step toward adulthood. This is a satisfying coming-of-age story with a good plot and strong images." —Library Media Connection Award YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens List 2014 (Top Ten Title) Texas Library Association Maverick Graphic Novel 2014 list Kirkus Best Book of 2013 less...
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